Well, let’s look at the positives: For a start, if you already know someone well, their personality and how they would probably react in certain situations, then it really does make writing easier.
In Confessions of an Invisible Man, I based Ledley, the kitchen manager on a guy I knew at school called Alwyn Simpson. He was such a great character and so likeable (not to mention being a great footballer!) and so it made the character more believable and likeable, in my opinion. However, it’s not a good thing to base a character on someone you know if they are going to offended by what they say or get up to in your book. Even changing their name might not hide their identity.
If you base a character on someone you know (possibly a friend) and then make them look stupid or have negative characteristics, human nature makes people think that ‘that’s what you really think of them’ – and they can get upset and offended. That’s despite the novel being a work of fiction.
Of course, if it is quite obvious a character is based on someone real, they can take legal action should you put them in illegal situations or have them do anything dodgy. So, you do have to be careful. However, if you represent someone you know in a good, positive way, then you’re absolutely fine, and they’ll be delighted with how they appear!
Consistency is king!
If your characters are purely fictional, then it will make writing about them harder as you’ll have to invent a complete character for them, one that is believable. I personally keep a character sheet of the main fictional characters, with a description of what they are like, which helps me to keep them consistent.
So, you have to decide which suits you best. Base characters on people you know, or create them from scratch. I like to do a combination of the two. Sometimes I just give a character the physical characteristics of someone I know, rather than the personality traits as it makes it easier for me to picture them when I’m writing.
OK, got to go now as I have things to do. One day when I’m a successful author like Stephen King, I’ll have a personal assistant to open my bag of oven chips for me – life will be a dream! bring it on your big publishers, I’m ready to receive a huge signing-on fee!!!
Bye for now my little darlings!